Directed By: Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas
Written By: Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Steven De Jarnatt
Produced By: Louis M. Silverstein
Cast: Dave Thomas, Rick Moranis, Max Von Sydow, Paul Dooley, Lynne Griffin, Angus MacInnes
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 90 minutes
Review Date: November 5, 2010
Some users on message boards of the Internet Movie Database’s page for The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew have suggested drinking games based on the occurrences of utterances of “eh” (which turns every sentence into a question, e.g., “This sentence is declarative, eh?”), “hoser” (a person of below average intelligence), and/or “take off” (“Goodbye,” as one would say to an annoying hoser). Or, a helpful contributor suggests, a party could just take a drink each and every time our heroes Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) take a drink themselves.
Leave aside the alcohol poisoning that would inevitably result from such a venture for a moment, and these anonymous sources might be on to something in relation to the intent of Moranis and Thomas, who also co-wrote the screenplay (with Steven De Jarnatt) and co-directed the movie. Drunken laughs might be had from comic material that essentially amounts to two guys with distinct Canadian dialects and vocabulary who drink beer and bicker a lot, but the screenplay is far too repetitive and curiously plot-driven for anyone with even a healthy dose of booze in their system to stay awake until the end.
Riffing on Hamlet, the boys from “The Great White North” sketch of SCTV get jobs as bottling inspectors at Elsinore brewery (ha…), where the previous owner has recently died a mysterious death. The owner’s daughter Pam (Lynne Griffin) takes ownership, much to the chagrin of her treacherous uncle (wait for it…) Claude (Paul Dooley) and the wicked Brewmeister Smith (Max Von Sydow, sporting an awkward mustache, a ridiculous set of teeth, and a clear lack of consideration).
The disastrously involved plot includes drugged beer, hockey players under mind control, security footage manipulation, kidnapping, the cutting of a van’s brake-line, random murder, threats of lobotomy, and so on. None of it is attached to any sort of joke beyond the fact that Bob and Doug say quickly unfunny words like “tuque,” “hosed,” “leak,” and the aforementioned words and phrases over and over again.
The very few funny bits are far between (Claude stating to a police inspector (Tom Harvey) that he has a photographic memory and proving he doesn’t immediately after the fact), random (another bit with Claude on the witness stand saying that his ignorance doesn’t equal a lie), and typically have little to do with Bob and Doug (one instance that does has Bob and Doug displaying the odd driving habits of people in movies). Flights of absurdity are strained at best, from the meta opening (the brothers watching their “movie” about mutants in the future with an infuriated audience) to the resolution of the central dilemma. That involves the inclusion of a deus ex machina in the form of a dog painted like a skunk.
By the by, the dog flies for good measure, little reason, and no humor. Though taking one of the intoxicating challenges for The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew would, in theory, guarantee one is blissfully unaware of what’s happening by that point.
Mark Dujsik is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. For more of his reviews, visit his website.